Research has found that Health & Safety Executive is putting companies in jeopardy of being bankrupt. A leading lawyer has said that businesses can be accused of committing incredibly serious Health & Safety offences when in fact the breaches that have been committed are less serious than the initial accusation.
Vikki Woodfine is a Partner at DWF LLP the law firm, and spoke yesterday before the Safety and Health Expo which took place at ExCel in London. Vikki is also a Lead Commentator for Croner-i, which is a Health and Safety professional information service. Vikki has said that some companies are pushed to the brink by fines for health and safety breaches. Health and safety is an important factor of business operations and should be taken seriously with breaches dealt with appropriately, however excessive fines could see a medium sized companies fined up to £4 million for health and safety offences. As well as the fines, which could lead to bankruptcy in themselves, there is also the legal costs of contesting these breaches because Health & Safety Executive has been adopting a policy of creating cases at the highest level of culpability, when in fact the majority of cases are apparently having to go to court in order argue for a lesser offence.
Vikki Woodfine has suggested that Health & Safety Executive needs to be more fair when assessing businesses and approach breaches with a more realistic point of view. Doing so will mean that there will be fewer contested cases and will cut the burden that gets placed onto public funds and the financial strains placed into businesses.
When it comes to contesting the offences, there has always been a reduction the value of the fine is a business pleads guilty, however there have been new fine levels introduced which has led to companies having to contest because the fine is insurmountable for the company otherwise.